Kay Ryan, Our Sly Poet Laureate

Introducing Kay Ryan, our Poet Laureate


Like Jasper Johns, Ryan frequently focuses upon objects or language with which we are so familiar that we may have forgotten to pay much attention any longer, forcing a fresh look. Perhaps no other poet, except Ashbery, brings back to life dull and overused terms or platitudinous sayings as often and as well as Kay Ryan. In Ryan’s poetry, clichéd and hackneyed phrases become sources of inspiration.(One Poet’s Notes – Kay Ryan the Niagara River)

Kay Ryan, Outsider With Sly Style, Named Poet Laureate (NYtimes)

In 1976 she finally realized that she could not escape the poet inside her. She had decided to ride a bicycle from California to Virginia in 80 days. Riding along the Hoosier Pass in the Colorado Rockies, she said, she felt an incredible opening up, “an absence of boundaries, an absence of edges, as if my brain could do anything.”

I Go to AWP – lifetime of preferring not to

I have always understood myself to be a person who does not go to writers conferences. It’s been a point of honor: the whole cooperative workshopping thing, not for me.

One of Ryan’s poems – “How Birds Sing” – is permanently installed at the Central Park Zoo in New York City. “It’s on top of a little retaining wall that children run up and down on,” she said. (Sfgate)

  • Talking with Kay Ryan

    I never thought of myself as having copied his line consciously, but one of the many things I admire in Williams, and a thing that I love about poetry and aspire to have in my poetry, is a terrific sense of lightness. I can’t stand the pounding, drumming, assaulting, kind of poetry. I just love the unemphasized casualness in Williams. I think I associate the lightness of the appearance on the page with another kind of lightness—not lightness of intention, but lightness of delivery. Does that make sense?

    I like her a lot.

    Ron Silliman on Kay Ryan